Not only did the Rat get the "hat," he got the "half." Half the goals, that is.
Once again, Cliff Ronning put on a clinic as the Vancouver Canuck Alumni opened another year of exhibition performances with a 10-7 victory over the Terrace Timber Bears on a visit to northwestern B.C. at the end of September (26th). The diminutive centre netted exactly half the ten goals scored by the visitors in what turned out to be a hard-fought contest against a well-prepared and talent-laden group of Skeena Valley senior league players before a near-capacity crowd who jammed the Terrace Sportsplex, scene of the 2009 Kraft Hockeyville extravaganza. That was the last time a crowd of this size turned out to watch a visiting Canucks team, when the visitors from Vancouver skated off with a 2-1 pre-season win over the New York Islanders.
And the pace of this game was every bit as brisk as the one the fans witnessed on the same ice, six years earlier. The Alumni raced away to a 4-1 lead after the opening period, only to see their opponents tie things up with three goals in just over three minutes to open the second. Then things got interesting. With Timber Bears goalie Paul Gillis stopping almost everything that came his way, the two teams traded goals until the middle of the third, when the visitors started to pull away, Ronning sealing the deal with his final goal into an empty net with under two minutes left on the clock.
It could have gone either way, had it not been for the solid two-way performance of Alumni standout Jyrki Lumme who anchored the defensive core and contributed his own hat trick while adding a couple of assists. Veteran forward Garry Monahan - the very first Amateur Draft pick who later skated with the NHL Canucks and became a Canucks television color commentator - and one-time Canuck draft pick turned country music singer-songwriter Chad Brownlee rounded out the scoring for the Alumni. Ronning was also credited with four assists, figuring in on nine of the Alumni's ten goals while Timber Bears forward Ryan Watson scored three times in a losing cause.
It was also a very successful evening at the box office and beer garden as the event's organizers, the Terrace Peaks Gymnastics Club, netted close to $25,000 from the Alumni event ... money that will go toward some major improvements to their training facility in suburban Thornhill.